FELIX UKA, in Abakaliki, writes that Governor David Umahi, has come up with what seems to be a lasting solution to clashes between herdsmen/farmers in the state.
Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi state has undoubtedly established peace between the Fulani herdsmen and farmers in the state. This state of harmony came on the heels of the alleged killing of four farmers in Enyibichiri in Izzi Local Government Area of the state, by suspected Fulani herdsmen.
The AUTHORITY learned that the Fulani herdsmen attacked and killed the farmers when they (farmers) demanded that the herders should stop their cows from grazing on their farms.
A similar incident also occurred in Akaeze community in Ivo Local Government Area of the state, where herdsmen reportedly battered no fewer than four farmers for preventing them from grazing on their farms.
Against the backdrop of these attacks and killings, there was widespread apprehension that the affected communities would embark on reprisal attacks against the Hausa/Fulani indigenes resident in the state, especially the herdsmen.
It was at this point that Governor Umahi, who incidentally is at the head of a sub-committee set up by the Federal Government to dialogue with the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN), stepped in to douse what one Abakaliki resident described as a “brewing war” between Ebonyi people and the Hausa/Fulani community in the state, particularly the herdsmen.
The governor set up a twenty nine- member
Committee charged with the responsibility to ensure cordial relationship between Fulani herders and the Ebonyi communities.
Speaking during the inauguration of the committee at Government House, Abakaliki, the governor stressed the need for tolerance and love for one another, saying those elements could generate and promote the spirit of oneness among the people.
The committee headed by the state Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Barrister Cletus Ofoke, is made up of representatives of the traditional institution, Miyetti Allah, security agencies and the state government. The Senior Special Assistant to the governor on internal security; Dr. Kenneth Ugbala, serves as secretary.
Governor Umahi, further stated that the essence of setting up the Committee which according to him, was initially suggested by the national leadership of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association during their visit to Ebonyi state was to minimise crises between migrant Fulani herders and farmers in the state.
He said: ”The essence of this committee is to ensure that we may live together as one people under one nation. The committee was first conceived by the national leadership of Miyetti Allah that visited us and on their own; they had a meeting with our people.
“We reached an agreement which we have documented today. I believe that with this agreement, we will be our brothers’ keeper.
”This one is going to be the standing committee on herdsmen. The local government chairmen should go and form theirs; as well as Co-coordinators of Development Centres, communities and the villages. And we have agreed we should do the enumeration of herdsmen.”
Umahi called on the committee to advice citizens of the state and the herders to be their brothers’ keeper; to stop the menace of herders/ farmers clash.
He charged the local government chairmen, Co-coordinators of Development centres to set up similar committees at the local government levels, emphasising that enumeration of herdsmen should be completed as soon as possible to checkmate the infiltration of unidentified migrants into the state.
The governor further directed the leadership of Miyetti Allah to enlighten their people on the agreement reached between the herders and Ebonyi state government to avoid further herdsmen/farmers clash in the state.
Before the setting up of the committee, there seems to be no love lost between the herders and farmers.
“The agreement signed between the leadership of the herdsmen and the state government, has gone a long way to restore peace in the state,” said one herdsman.
Not a few in the state say that the involvement of non-inigenes, especially Hausa/Fulani indigenes in the Governor Umahi administration has helped to kindle friendship and love between the indigenes and non-indigenes.
Indeed, the Hausa quarters, which is the residential area of Hausa/Fulani indigenes in Abakaliki, the Ebonyi state capital was recently agog as they celebrated the appointment of five Hausa men into the governor’s administration.
The appointees are Alhaji Salisu Mohammed, and Alhaji Haladu Ismail, as technical assistants to the governor on Herdsmen, and Alhaji Sule Mohammed, as technical assistant to the governor on Sports.
Others appointees are Haiya Asmau Gambo, and Lawal Hamajoda, as liaison officers.
Spokesman of the appointees, Alhaji Sule Mohammed, explained that the Hausa community in the state had not enjoyed such gestures since their sojourn in the state.
He implored Governors of other geo-political zones to emulate such embrace, noting that the Ebonyi state government had by the action demonstrated true patriotism and belief in the unity of the country.
“We are witnessing this kind of benevolence for the first time. We feel at home in Ebonyi state. I implore Northern Governors to adopt this kind of attitude. I am from Shanon LGA of Kano state, I feel like I am at home here.
“Governor Umahi has demonstrated his faith in the unity of Nigeria. No wonder he is the chairman of the South-East Governors’ Forum.”
Mohammed explained that the appointment of Hausa men as technical assistants on Herdsmen would help promote dialogue between the herdsmen, farmers and their host communities.
He said: “You will not hear of further clashes between the herdsmen and farmers in Ebonyi state. Indeed, Governor Umahi has great wisdom
“And given his approach to ensuring peace in the state, no right thinking person will stand against his second term bid.
The projects and programmes on ground eloquently speak for him.
“As for us the Hausa community, we have unanimously endorsed him ahead of the flag-off of campaigns.
“Last December, Governor Umahi gave the Hausa people in Ebonyi state 200 bags of rice. He gave us two hundred thousand naira. I signed and collected the money.
“We thank the Commissioner for Youth and Sports; Hon. Charles Akpu-Enika, because he has coordinated our relationship with the Abakaliki Urban Forum.
He has really ensured our cordial relationship with the residents and of course the Ebonyi state government,” said Mohammed.
There is a groundswell of opinion in Ebonyi state that given the setting up of the Ofoke committee, and the integration of Hausa/Fulanis into the Umahi-led administration, it would be difficult if not impossible for a re-occurrence of herders/farmers clash in the state.